14.11.2005

Nationwide Conference North

Hednesford Town

Heath (1), Scheppel (22)

Kettering Town

Moore (43), Gould (65)

(2) 2

(0) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

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992

Richard Teesdale

L W L W W D L D L D

 

Harrogate Town (H) 19.11.05

The Pitmen earn themselves a battling point against play-off chasing Kettering Town this evening but allowed their visitors to claw back a point after going in at half-time two goals to the good

Saturday's horror show at Worcester City prompted manager Chris Brindley to make major changes to his side for their return home this evening. The vastly experienced Ian Wright - formerly with Stoke City, Hull City and Hereford United - had joined the club last week and came straight into the side in place of Brindley to make his debut at centre-back. Paul McMahon was included at the expense of assistant manager Steve Anthrobus and young defender Tom Marshall replaced Ross Adams as the final of three changes

Sixth-placed Kettering mad been in the news recently after owner Imran Ladak had appointed ex-England great Paul Gascoigne as the club's new manager, replacing Kevin Wilson towards the end of last month. Gazza had overseen a 4-1 win over Stalybridge Celtic at the weekend, extending the Poppies' unbeaten league run to four games. Gascoigne elected to stick with the same XI that had started at Rockingham Road on Saturday for tonight's trip across to Staffordshire

On a freezing November evening, all of the focus pre-match appeared to be on Gascoigne, who had attracted a larger-than-normal Keys Park crowd for a midweek game as several locals came down to catch a glimpse of the former England great. On the pitch, the Pitmen went straight to work as they looked to banish the painful memories of Saturday's dreadful display and took the lead with just forty seconds on the clock; Lee Williams sent over a cross from the right which was flicked on by Andy Bell and into the path of the incoming Rob Heath, who swept the ball past Mark Osborn from ten yards out. A flying start from the Pitmen and a goal scored before Gascoigne had even taken his seat in the Kettering dugout

Colin Hunter could have doubled the home side's lead four minutes later as the winger made a darting run into the penalty area to get on the end of a pass from Danny Scheppel but dragged his shot wide from just inside the Kettering penalty area

In the tenth minute, another fine delivery from Williams saw him clip a corner kick into the near post, where defender Richard Teesdale headed over the crossbar from six yards out as he beat Craig McIlwain to the ball

Three minutes later, Kettering launches their first attack of the game as neat play from Wayne Duik down the right saw him beat Branch for pace and send over a cross to the far post, where Neil Midgley headed tamely wide of the target, under pressure from Teesdale

Teesdale was involved again for the Pitmen in the seventeenth minute as Williams' corner kick was cleared by the Kettering defence, but only as far as Heath on the edge of the penalty area, whose ball back into the penalty area was scuffed wide by Teesdale, who was slightly off-balance as he tried to turn the ball home from ten yards out

The hosts doubled their lead midway through the first half as they took further advantage of their territorial dominance with a second goal of the evening; Bell was involved again for the hosts, holding off McIlwain down the right as he latched onto Tom Marshall's pass before crossing to the far post, where new boy Scheppel was on hand to volley the ball past Osborn from six yards out to register his first goal for the club

Branch's long throw on twenty-six minutes was flicked on by Teesdale and into the path of Hunter, who took a touch just inside the Poppies penalty area but snatched at his shot and pulled his effort well wide of goal

Osborn denied Bell with a regulation save on the half-hour mark, claiming the ball at his near post after the former Blackburn striker had flicked a Scheppel pass goalwards

The experienced Christian Moore went close to reducing the deficit for Kettering five minutes later as his snapshot from fifteen yards out was smothered by Brush at his near post

Branch was on hand to protect the Pitmen's two-goal lead on forty-one minutes as he made a timely goal-line clearance to hack McIlwain's goalbound header away from danger

However, the visitors did get themselves back into the game on the stroke of half-time as the Pitmen gifted Kettering a route back into the game; Williams looked to head a long ball forwards back to Brush, but his flicked effort fell some way short of reaching the Hednesford custodian, allowing the prolific former Burton Albion man Moore to nip in and fire into the roof of the net from just inside the penalty area

The hosts had been good value for their lead at the break, but that late defensive clanger will have changed Gascoigne's half-time team talk to his players and given the Poppies hope. McMahon was forced off at the break with a hamstring strain picked up late in the first period and was replaced at the start of the second half by Craig Marshall

Sure enough, the away side started the second half well with Duik's run and cross on fifty minutes headed downwards by Moore, but the ball was at a comfortable height for Brush to claim

Two minutes later, Wright was beaten for pace by James Gould as the pair chased down Dave Theobald's pass, with the Kettering striker firing into the Poppers fans gathered behind Brush's goal

The Poppies hit the woodwork on fifty-six minutes as Moore held the ball up well against Wright and laid the ball off to Theobald, who took the ball into the Hednesford penalty area and struck a low shot at goal that beat Brush but cannoned back off the base of his right-hand post

The excellent Teesdale made a timely goal-line clearance to keep the Pitmen in front just before the hour mark as Derek Brown's header from Ollie Burgess's cross was headed away by the Pitmen's number two

However, you felt that it was just a matter of time before the visitors got themselves back on level terms and Gould finally made it 2-2 on sixty-five minutes; picking up a loose ball in the Hednesford half, Gould was allowed time and space to make a move towards goal before striking an unstoppable effort from twenty-five yards out that beat Brush all ends up and nestled in the back of the net

The Pitmen had been impotent as an attacking force in the second half, with Bell bustling his way past McIlwain on sixty-seven minutes and pulling his angled shot wide of goal as the hosts made a rare move into Kettering territory

A free-kick from Theobald on seventy minutes was flicked on by Midgley and into the path of Moore, whose first-time effort was blocked by Teesdale before Brush pounced on the rebound to stop Gould from getting to the ball

You felt that there was only going to be one winner as the game entered its final stages, with Kettering setting up camp inside the Hednesford half as they created more good openings. Brush tipped Theobald's rising shot over the crossbar on seventy-three minutes, with Brown heading high over the crossbar from the resultant corner kick

With thirteen minutes remaining, good play from Kettering saw Midgley and substitute Rob Duffy combine to set Moore away in behind the Hednesfrord defence, only for referee Mr Castle to pull the play back after a tight offside flag against the experienced striker

Two minutes later, the hosts made their second substitution of the evening as Grant Beckett came on to add legs to the tiring midfield in place of the out-of-sorts Williams

Despite Kettering pressing with intent, the Pitmen almost grabbed themselves an unlikely winner with eight minutes remaining as a quick break from the men in white saw Heath play in Craig Marshall, whose powerfully struck right-footed effort whistled inches wide of Osborn's left-hand post

Back came the away side and Gould's attempted lob over Brush with five minutes remaining was pushed away by the goalkeeper for yet another Kettering corner kick

More last-ditch defending, involving both Wight and Teesdale, denied Midgley a simple tap-in at the far post with two minutes left after Duffy's cross caused problems in the six-yard box and required blocks from both defenders

 

In the final minute, Kettering thought that they had won it at the death as Gould's shot took a wicked deflection off Scheppel and fell to Moore, who prodded the ball towards the unguarded net but was denied by a vital block on the line by Tom Marshall

Although they had given up a two-goal lead, this had been a much-improved performance from the Pitmen against a dangerous Poppies side and an entertaining point apiece. The hosts remain in sixteenth place in the table and four points above the drop zone but had shown a good battling spirit that had been sadly lacking on Saturday afternoon. This weekend sees the Pitmen host play-off chasing Harrogate Town at Keys Park, in what will be a first-ever meeting between the two sides and a chance for Brindley's side to end their recent run of five games without a win

Hednesford Town: Brush, Teesdale, Wright, T. Marshall, Scheppel, Williams © (Beckett 79), Heath, Hunter, Branch, Bell, McMahon (C. Marshall 45)    Subs Unused: Anthrobus, Brindley, Molloy

Kettering Town: Osborn, Duik, Morley, Hall (Patterson 76), McIlwain ©, Brown, Burgess (Duffy 61), Theobald, Midgley (Difante 83), Moore, Gould       Subs Unused: Thompson, Nicell